Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Psycho Cooker Dines in Detroit

I have briefly returned to my homeland, Detroit, to recharge my battery before finals.  Detroit is struggling a bit these days, but one thing the economy cannot take from it is its eclectic place on the culinary map.  My sojourn to Detroit also served as a brief break from cooking; below is a synopsis of the smattering of meals I had before commencing the great Thanksgiving cook-off. 

 On my first evening in the D, we had my parents’ version of a “small” barbeque: a couple pounds of bone-in center cut pork chops, burgers (with and without cheese), and sundried tomato chicken sausage.  With such delicate fare and small portions (note the sarcasm), a pizza and salad were deemed necessary supplements to the meat spectacular.  Perhaps this meal sounds palatable, but not exactly noteworthy.  Well, we didn’t have just any pizza.  This was Buddy’s pizza, a Detroit institution.  Square, deep-dished, perfectly greasy, with a generous layer of Brick cheese, and tomato sauce stippled on top of it all.  It’s sort of like what would happen if a grilled cheese sandwich and pizza had a shotgun wedding, and a baby with a perfect balance of their respective genetic traits.  They really would have beautiful children.  
On Monday, I met a friend for lunch, and we ate at a bona fide local Jewish deli: Steve’s Deli.  At Steve’s, they pull out all of the stops, and the restaurant is even set up like a long, narrow New York deli.  Although Detroit-style deli may sound like a poor man’s New York deli, I have heard New Yorkers rave about it.  I grew up with it, and it is near and dear to my heart.  In order to protect that heart, I actually chose turkey instead of corned beef, and it was delightful.  I went with the classic combination of Swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing.  Jewish fare never ceases to amaze me because it takes questionable ingredients, and sews them together in such a way that results in something delicious.  Let’s break it down: deli-style coleslaw = cabbage, carrot, mayonnaise, a little vinegar, a little sugar (these ingredients probably don’t have you drooling).  And Russian dressing is even worse: mayo, ketchup, and pickle relish.  Honestly, I don’t even know what to say about that.  BUT, if you put it all together and pile it up with some turkey or corned beef, and some Swiss cheese, people will go mad for it.  Of course, the perfect rye bread plays a pivotal role.  My friend had a beautiful sandwich of fresh mozzarella, pesto, and tomato.  It looked amazing and I’m sure it was delicious in a little more conventional way, but I couldn’t let the opportunity for genuine deli slip through my fingers, and I have no regrets.  

I mentioned in a previous post that Detroit seems to have a Greek diner on every corner, and we call them “coney islands” (see the post on avgolemono soup).  I had to make a visit during my stay, but I couldn’t go to any old coney island.  It had to be the best: Greek Islands Coney Island.  They have undoubtedly the best Greek salad in the world.  Perfectly herbaceous chicken breast, grilled to order, baby spinach, radicchio, head lettuce, shredded carrots, kalamata olives*, tomato wedges, peperoncinis*, feta, etc., etc.  With those greens, it may sounds like this place is a little upper crust, but this is not the case.  You can also get an all beef Kosher chili dog for $2.10.  I actually did not get the salad, and went with spanikopita* and avgolemono soup* (see the glossary for a definition or my post on avgolemono soup).  Not only is it authentic spanikopita, but it also comes in its own individual strudel-like package.  Greek Islands does not skimp on the feta, which results in a lovely spinach-to-cheese ratio.  This food is so good that I unfortunately forget to take a picture, but you can see a picture of their spanikopita on their website’s menu. 

These are just a few examples of Detroit’s great food.  Although I am enjoying my time in Colorado, Detroit has a lot of options that would be impossible without its diverse population.  Unfortunately, I have just grazed the surface: Cantonese Chinese and the most spectacular Middle Eastern food will just have to wait for the sequel to this post.  To be continued...

*See glossary for definitions

1 comment:

  1. my only comment. grilled cheese and pizza having a baby? brilliant.